Public speaking causes high anxiety Public speaking can be terrifying. Many people are more afraid of public speaking than of snakes, spiders, or even death, according to some surveys. Sometimes referred to as “stage fright,” this reaction does not just occur in novices. In The Challenge of Effective Speaking, the authors report that “as many as 76 percent of experienced public speakers feel fearful before presenting a speech” (Verderber et al. 2012). We all know the feeling. When we rise to our feet to make a speech or give a presentation, almost all of us feel stress, anxiety and nervousness, which trigger a surge of adrenaline that can manifest in a variety of ways: muscle tension, trembling hands, a squeaky voice, rapid and shallow, sweaty palms, fidgeting, or even worse—outright panic.

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